11 road trips and 21 stories on tape and no one asking: Are we there yet?


11 road trips and 21 stories on tape and no one asking: Are we there yet?

As much as I used to dread going on road trips as a child, I now love it as an adult. I was one of those children that kept on asking: are we there yet? When my oldest child was a toddler, she used to hate long trips and I fear her in them. Road trips where painful for all, until she got a bit older, and we all discovered stories on tape. Now, thanks to the CDs we get from the public library, my husband, my 11-year-old, my 8-year-old and I look forward to our car trips and and could drive for hours. Many of the road trips that we’ve had and love are associated with the book or book series we read then.

These are, more or less chronologically, some of my most memorable US road trips and the stories we’ve listened to:

Williamsburg to Miami (when my older daughter was 5):

The Mysterious Benedict Society series (loved this series: they were the start of our driving while listening to stories saga. My younger son would fuzz and fall sleep during the first couple of years, until I suddenly discovered him listening to the stories and asking questions)

About 4 trips from San Francisco to LA when my niece was there (when my daughter was about 7, 8, 9, and my son 4,5,7)

Almost all of the Tinkerbell stories about fairies

Almost all of the Magic Tree house series

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

Charlotte’s Web by EB White

Ella Enchanted

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls

Harriet the Spy

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Harry Potter (books 1 and 2)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

2 trips from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (Houghton)

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Mathilda by Roal Dahl

Round trip Phoenix to Tubac

Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

San Francisco to Phoenix roundtrip

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Loved this one)

San Francisco to Santa Barbara

39 Steps

Washington DC to Williamsburg, Williamsburg To Hannover, NH and back to DC

Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (we did all of them)

2014’s springbreak San francsico to Lake Tahoe

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Trip to camp Mather in San francsico June 2014

The Youngest Templar. by Michael P. Spadrilin

The above are the books that come to my mind for some of the more significant road trips we’ve taken, but we’ve listened to many more stories on tape. Whenever I need some peace and quiet and to think about my life, I love to go off for a long drive with the kids and while they listen to stories on tape, I meditate.


From San Francisco California to San Francisco de Quito


As my kids and I get ready to leave San Francisco CA, the city where we reside in, to go for a couple of months to visit San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, the city where I grew up (including a 2 week stop in Costa Rica to visit my sister and her family), I already feel nostalgic of the fog city I leave behind.


Both San Franciscos share a good number of curious similitudes.  Though San Francisco de Quito (the full name given by its founders) is in the Equator and San Francisco, California, in the Northern Hemisphere, both cities are full of hills, they both have almost exactly the same weather and vegetation year round, and both have a gorgeous fog that rolls in in the evening and rolls out in the mornings. I’ve checked the weather for both at the same time and, except for some picks of cold wind and unusual heat in San Francisco, CA, or some picks of strong sun at noon in Quito (short name it’s known for), they share the almost the same degrees. Their similar environments are due the fact that their location creates pocket weather zones for both.  Their spring weather pocket is due to, in the case of Quito, its altitude of 9000 feet, and San Francisco due to its location in the bay, fog and currents.  Another similitude was the arrival of the Franciscan orders to both areas, giving their name to both cities.  San Francisco’s first mission was built by the Franciscan order, as well as one of Quito’s most beautiful colonial churches and convents. Because of its mild weather, many orders of priests, established ground in Quito creating dozens of colonial churches and convents within a small square mileage. Both cities have very courteous and friendly people, perhaps due to their physical beauty and mild weather conditions.

ImageBoth cities are very different many other ways.  San Francisco’s natural beauty comes from the gorgeous bay and ocean that surrounds it; while Quito’s natural beauty comes from the magnificent Andes Mountains it’s nestled in.  San Francisco’s old neighborhoods are made of beautiful Victorian or Edwardian houses from the late 1800 to early 1900s, while Quito’s colonial town is full of Spanish style houses dating as far back as the 1530s. Quito’s population is composed mainly of mestizos (racially mixed Spanish and indigenous), a small purely indigenous or purely Spanish descendants and a small afro-Ecuadorian population, while San Francisco Bay Area’s population is one of the most diverse in the planet.

There are many pros and cons about living in either city. One of the biggest pros of Quito is the fact that, since most families and friends stay in the same city for most of their lives, people have deep and long lasting relationships.  I’m still friends with people who were my classmates in kindergarten, and most of my high school classmates, even if they went to study elsewhere, reside in Quito now.  A big pro of San Francisco, is the fact that there is a huge diversity of races, religions, sexual orientation, and more, together with a strong respect and appreciation to diversity.


I want to take advantage of my having a large set of family and friends in San Francisco of Quito and establish good long lasting relationships between my kids and them. I also want my kids to grow up honoring diversity the way most of  San Francisco California does. I’m lucky that way, as I want to, as much as possible, offer to my kids the best of both San Franciscos.

Raquel’s Pain Perdu recipe for breakfast


My Spanish/French friend Raquel came back after living in Spain for a couple of years. It is not only awesome to have her family (including her two kids that are my kid’s age) back, but now that the kids are 10 and 7, we can do sleep-over trades.

One of the best thing about our kids sleeping over at her house was learning to make Pain Perdu, and the other was finally for my husband and I to have a night on our own! When we picked the kids up in the morning, we found them happily eating a kind of bread they would have never touched before. Pain Perdu is a recipe that uses the left over bread, or the ends of a loaf of bread, something that the kids never want to eat…

I recreated this recipe at home and added thawed berries to the bread -to make it a little bit healthier.

Not sure if I got the recipe 100% right, but here is what I did, and now and my kids love:


1.   I submerged the leftover pieces of bread in a bowl of milk, that I had previously mixed with cinnamon and a little bit of brown sugar.

2.   I lightly dipped the “milky” bread in a bowl with beaten eggs.


3. Fried the bread in butter.

And VOILA!!!!!!!! Delicious…